It’s the beginning of the new year, and all of the biggest projects, final assessments, loads of homework are all coming our way. Almost all subjects are now giving us their worst, but for the sake of grades, we have to hold up. So it was no surprise when our Humanities teacher announced the monster project he did.
First, we were split into groups, we got an ancient society per group. Somebody got Ancient Greece, someone ancient India, China etc. Our group of 4 got ancient Rome. We’d been researching for weeks – as a group, so we knew that couldn’t be the test. What, then? We kept pondering over our next assessment. Until yesterday, yesterday – we got our answer. And I have a feeling this project won’t be easy.
Here is what I gotta do – make a speech or video and do tons of research about the most important innovation that Ancient Rome had. Then I have to present that perfect video/speech by Thursday next week! It’s already Friday! But I got to work and now I am writing a blog to share what I spent hours googling on with everyone.
The first image that comes to your mind when you think about an ancient society is – A king, an army and villages ( that’s what I think of anyway) Rome – being one of the most powerful civilizations to have ruled had all of those, and much more.
Ancient Rome flourished from about 700 B.C to 476 C.E. That’s roughly 1200 years. Enough for 20 generations! No-one is entirely sure how ancient Rome began, nor do we know for sure who the first king of Rome was. However, there is a popular theory as to how it began – As we know that the first people to live in the city of Rome were Latins. The Latins, at that time, were one of the many groups that had invaded Italy, so for now, the Latins were in charge.
Rumor is- that a Latin tribe built a village on Palestine hill by around 700 B.C.E. As they enjoyed their time controlling Italy the story follows a princess giving birth to twin sons – Romulus and Remus, who were supposedly sons of Mars, the Roman god of war. Since the King was afraid they would steal his throne, he ordered a few men to take them to the Tiber river and drown them.
Luckily for them – a wolf named Lupa rescued the twins in the nick of time. She then raised the twins to adulthood. Once they were mature men they decided to found a town on the bank of the Tiber river, where the wolf found them and name this town Rome. There was a quarrel between the twins as to who would lead this growing empire, so Romulus killed his brother and set off to lead the great Empire of Rome.
Rome developed on the Italian peninsula, which is a long, boot-shaped piece of land in southern Europe. Italy is a big country, so to its north was the rest of Europe and to its south, east and west there were seas. Italy housed 2 major mountain ranges – the Lofty Alps (which stretch from the west to the east of this peninsula; and the Apennines (which, you could say are like the mountainous backbone of Italy). With 2 major mountain ranges, we can infer that Italy is a pretty rocky place. The little amount of Italy that is not mountain is either high, rocky levelled plains or coastlands.
Having seas on three sides – it’s quite obvious that Italy has several rivers flowing through it – including, the ||Tiber, Po, Arno, Piave, Adda, Oglio, Tanaro|| and I could go on… Click on this link to see all of Italy’s major rivers. There are a lot.
Italy is also a very mountainous piece of land and has several mountains, and mountain ranges contained in it 308, 338 square kilometres of land. The main mountain range of Italy are the Apennines and they go right smack in the middle and cover the whole vertical length of the nation. But other mountains/mountain ranges include – the Alps, Mount Vitruvius, Dolomites, Mont Blanc (part of the Alps), Mount Etna and lots, lots more. (Google gives too much info) click here to see more mountains of Italy.
Enough about Italy though… The post’s name is Ancient Rome and I haven’t done much on Rome, yet, so – Here I go…
Can you spot Rome on this map?
Now, if you noticed right – Rome is right next to the Tiber river and only a few dozen miles away from the sea, this gives the city a huge geographical advantage.
If you wanted to start a great empire, kingdom or just a regular society that goes on for hundreds of years, where you choose to start that empire, really matters. So, if you were to start it in a harsh climated desert you’re probably less likely to survive than if you were to start it next to a river and sea, with fertile soil and adequate amount of rain and sunlight.
So, clearly, the geographical location of a society greatly impacts its development and in this factor – Rome had a huge headstart from other societies. In fact, if I were to choose any place on the earth to start my own empire, where Rome began would be it.
Here’s why :
- Having a river and sea so close to me, my crops would grow perfectly in the naturally fertile soil.
- 7 hills surrounded Rome, giving it a natural defence barrier.
- Being on the Tiber river, the location offered early settlers access to fresh water for drinking and bathing.
- The Tiber river also served as a great waterway for trade.
With all these advantages, I don’t think it’s a surprise that Rome grew so quickly, do you?
Greeks and Etruscans.
As Rome rose to power two other major clans did too – The Greeks and the Etruscans. The Romans ‘borrowed’ many ideas and skills from these other two empires beginning with the Etruscans. The Etruscans controlled Etruria – some land north of Palestine, by about 800 B.C.E. No-one really knows where they came from but the important thing is – that they did.
The main Engineering feats Rome ‘borrowed’ from Etruria were – the Arch, and the Cuniculus (which is an underground irrigation system invented by the Etruscans)
Although the idea of an arch was invented by Sumerians, the Etruscan arches were rested on two pillars that supported a half circle of wedge-shaped stones, with a keystone in the middle for holding all other pieces tightly in place.
A Cuniculus was basically a looooooong underground trench, vertical shafts connected it to the ground above. Etruscans used these to irrigate farms, empty swamps and carry water to their cities.
You can give credit to Etruscans for the brutal sports of Rome too. The idea of slave fighting came from Etruria, the custom was to arrange a fight during a funeral, 2 slaves of their dead masters were told to fight each other to the death. The fighter who won was congratulated by everyone 🎉🎊🎉!!! And then executed😭💀.
Etruscans also loved watching chariot game and races. So, the charioteers or drivers were firmly strapped into their chariots, if a chariot overturned, the driver could be dragged beneath the wheels of the chariot or trampled by the horses. No biggie, right? These competitions if not kill will at-least injure the players.
The Greeks greatly influenced Roman writing, and mostly religion.
The Greek writing was first adopted and changed by the Etruscans, the Romans then took that alphabet into their hands and altered it too. Like the Greeks, Romans too wrote IN ALL CAPITALS. As the Greeks carved important documents such as laws or treaties, into bronze or stone plaques, the Romans too carved inscriptions in walls for all to see. Many Roman writers were also influenced by Greek poetry.
The Greeks worshipped many gods and goddesses. They performed rituals and sacrifices to gain the gods’ favour for everything from a good harvest to curing the sick. Of course, the early Romans too had their own religion and gods to follow. But everything changed when the Roman culture came in contact with the Greek, Whenever the Romans encountered a similar god from the Greek religion to their own – they blended the gods’ characteristics with theirs.
The Romans adopted many of the Greek gods as their own and then gave them different roman names. For example – the most powerful Greek god Zeus got converted into the Roman Jupiter, Ares, the god of war became mars, Poseidon the god of the sea became Neptune, Hades the God Of The Underworld became Pluto etc.
And that’s how Greeks and Etruscans impacted ancient Rome.
Here’s just a fun video of teenage life in ancient Rome 😉